Here in Minneapolis and across our nation, these are challenging times for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Local emergencies, impactful opportunities to speak up, and the COVID-19 pandemic are creating serious new needs in communities across the country. Organizations that were already operating at or near capacity find themselves trying to stretch their resources even further while simultaneously managing the disruptions caused by a shift to remote work, declining donations, and a volatile stock market. As a result, many organizations are struggling to meet their goals.
Learn how some organizations are going virtual to improve their nonprofit operations and results to their community through my recently published article in The Sustainable Nonprofit blog from PND by Candid.
Go Virtual to Improve Results During Emergencies
Our communities need us right now. Many philanthropic and nonprofit organizations are stepping up to the challenge. Yet these organizations are already at full capacity, with stressed and worn-out employees working overtime from their homes. As both donations and management fees are temporarily down, adding staff is not an option. How can these organizations create the needed capacity to help meet community needs?
Inspiration on how to overcome challenges can come from problem-solving rock stars. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest thinkers in history, said: We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.”
Innovative thinking is needed to survive, thrive, and provide the needed help in today’s environment. Acquiring new information and new skills often leads to creative problem solving. In today’s remote work environment, such problem-solving skills need to be taught through virtual training characterized by thought-provoking content and lively, engaging delivery.
Our Think Differently Process Transformation Training™ builds process skills effectively through live online training. Recently one foundation spokesperson shared their feedback on this virtual workshop. “We found this training both informative and energizing.” The training helped attendees identify a handful of sound process improvement ideas that they could implement. Our interactive online training teaches employees how to use tools that have consistently added value for philanthropic and nonprofit organizations.
We are all at a different level of readiness to change how work is done. In nearly every Think Differently Process Transformation Training™ session, someone joins on with his/her arms folded, not willing to learn new concepts. This workshop uses multiple techniques to improve attendees’ readiness. By presenting information, examples, and exercises, we help attendees move from being resistant to being receptive—even to the point of driving change. Lee Kuntz, process transformation coach and trainer, frequently sees initial resisters become the strongest drivers of process and results transformation.
Do you think of manufacturing when you think about concepts such as quality management and Lean Operations? It’s true that many process improvement tools work only in a manufacturing context. But after over 20 years of serving the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, Lee Kuntz has identified the tools that improve performance in non-manufacturing settings. These methods integrate human-centered design concepts into process improvement practices, generating impressive results. Organizations average a 52% improvement in process outcomes when they use the tools taught in our training.
The employees who work various processes every day are in the best position to improve them. When they are the ones who identify improvement opportunities, they buy into the need for change and work diligently to put their own best ideas into practice
Therefore, our training is focused on building the skills of your employees. Our training explains proven concepts, demonstrates those concepts, and then asks attendees to use their new process skills during the online session. Through guided practice, attendees build their process muscles, creating the confidence and experience to help your organization successfully recapture time, deliver better and faster outcomes, and say yes to your governing board and community.
Right now, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations must function efficiently in order to meet the pressing needs of constituents. Through an investment in eight hours of live, online process transformation training, your employees will gain skills and hope while helping achieve your organization’s goals.
Learn more about our live, online process transformation training here: Training: Think Differently Process Transformation Workshop for Foundations.
For 20 years, Lee Kuntz has been helping organizations think differently about how work is done. With tech-savvy tools and engaging content, our online training and coaching teach employees how to capitalize on proven nonprofit best practices.
Will you or your colleagues be attending the 2019 Foundation Administrators Officers Group (FAOG) Conference for community foundations in September? I ask as I am delivering our Introduction to Transformational Process Improvement Training™ on Wednesday, September 11. The FAOG conference ends at 11 am Wednesday. This transformational process improvement training session starts Wednesday at noon.
Introduction to Transformational Process Improvement Training™ is both the first three hours of our one-day training and the first of our five course transformational process improvement training series. See how community foundations transform their donor advised fund grants process to a better, faster and less laborious outcome. See how they recapture hundreds even thousands of work hours from their gifts process while delivering acknowledgements to their donors better and faster.
Learn more and register at: Introduction to Transformational Process Improvement Training after FAOG. Registration for this training is limited to 15 attendees to ensure everyone has a great experience. Registration closes once 15 people have registered or on August 31, 2019, whichever comes first.
If instead your organization is ready to learn to do transformational process improvement, check out our one-day training in Florida on August 22, 2019 or contact me to frame having the training at your site.
Glad to share this opportunity to learn these important concepts while at the FAOG Conference! Contact me with any questions.
The work week should be over, but the office is buzzing, and the chief financial officer is making the rounds one more time. Foundation policy says grantee checks must be in the mail by end of day Friday, and there are still dozens of outstanding items. Everyone is staying late, because if those checks don’t get out, grantees can’t act on their programs. People can’t get help. And the foundation board is sure to hear about it.
If that scene sounds uncomfortably familiar, you’re not alone. Learn more: Invest for Impact: Continuous Process Improvement
Have you been part of a process improvement project that required an investment of hours upon hours over months or even years? Was a process improvement effort stopped because the team could not agree upon which improvement ideas to implement? Or an improvement initiative that made things worse instead of better?
With results like these, no wonder leaders hesitate to authorize process improvement initiatives. Yet some leaders are achieving impressive results from redesigning processes. They cut the work time to serve their customers in half, recapturing and repurposing thousands of hours. At the same time, they deliver better outcomes to their communities, boards, and partners.
These diametrically opposed outcomes beg the question: What creates the big difference in results?
The difference in results stems, in part, from the varying working definitions of process improvement. One website defines process improvement as “a systematic approach that can be used to make incremental and breakthrough improvements in processes.” While this approach sounds promising, it falls short of bringing transformational change.
A process redesign project that focuses only on improving how work is done will not significantly improve outcomes despite taking many hours of staff time. For example, one team shared that they worked on an improvement project for eighteen months. They met for two hours every month and talked about a host of cutting-edge ideas. Yet the team could not come together behind any idea they were willing to try. After they had invested more than 400 work hours generating ideas without implementing any of them, people started dropping out of the project. Then the CEO identified a new initiative and the team switched its focus to that priority.
I view process improvement more holistically. I see it as a tool to improve outcomes in a broader sense. It can be leveraged to enhance quality, customer experience, accuracy, compliance, or any other key process outcome. When leaders start by identifying the specific outcome(s) that must be improved, they make it possible to achieve impactful process improvement results.
Recently, a chief operations/administration officer (COO) became aware that her organization was incurring significant late-payment penalties. Phone calls about the late payments from both internal managers and external partners were eating up her team’s time, and the organization’s financial resources were being squandered on paying the penalties.
The COO talked with her team about what she saw and then initiated a process redesign project with the specific goal of getting payments out on time. She leveraged my team’s process improvement training and mentoring to help the team better understand what was actually happening. Once her team saw that they could solve the pain they were experiencing, they eagerly stepped forward to be on the redesign team. This team used their new process improvement knowledge to reduce the payment process from 110 steps to 60 steps. Now they are implementing these new ideas and have shortened the time to get payments out. They will no longer be plagued with collection phone calls and can reinvest their time in helping the organization fulfill its key objectives.
Achieving process improvement results starts with identifying the needed outcome(s) first. After all, would you start a road trip without picking a destination? With no destination, you may end up in Alaska, rather than California. Or on the side of the road, out of provisions for the journey. Only through setting a clear destination can your team succeed in achieving the improvement they need.
As a coach and a trainer, I have opportunities to influence leaders as they seek to achieve process improvement results. Therefore, I first ask which outcomes need to be improved.
When leaders focus on improving specific process outcomes, they foster employee engagement and leadership support. Starting with a particularly painful outcome is a great first step. For example, a director of donor relations received calls from three donors who said they received someone else’s gift acknowledgement letter. After awkward apologies were made and the letters were corrected, the director called me to learn how she could quickly address this situation so it would never happen again. I coached her and the team through a four-hour rapid process improvement event. I encouraged the group to kept one essential outcome in mind: Gift acknowledgements must be sent out to the correct donor every time.
Being clear about the goal helped galvanize the team to take action and be laser-focused in their redesign work. This focus shortened the time needed for the improvement work, as there were no side trips that consumed valuable team time and energy.
When your team needs to attain a given process outcome and is missing the mark, think process improvement. Whether your issue is an unhappy customer, overwhelmed employees, or a board demanding answers, start by identifying the specific outcomes needed. Communicating with employees about the missed mark and committing to resolve it can begin your journey to achieve impressive results.
Some organizations have built their process management skills and routinely fix inadequate outcomes successfully and quickly. You can, too. Contact me, Lee Kuntz, to talk through how your team can undertake rapid improvement that achieves process improvement results and promotes organizational success. Achieve Process Improvement Results: Start at the End
So I really do appreciate you training my team this year. We did indeed achieve success from the overwhelming work we faced. The embarrassing operation errors are gone. Clients and leadership love us. This process improvement training transformed our business and culture.
Did I mention, we work very little overtime?
That’s my biggest problem right now!
With the holidays coming up, I think about how I’ve avoided my mother-in-law’s holiday dinners for years by claiming overtime. She serves headcheese, kishke, and pig snoots to name a few. These, well, SCARE ME. I may have to face my fears this year. Or maybe you could pull one more nugget out of your bag so I can avoid this event?
Hiding Out in the East
Let me check my bag – no, no advice on mother-in-laws. But heritage food – yes. I’ve had the privilege of sampling all these and agree with you. Luckily you do have time to figure out how you will handle this moment. The good news – overtime doesn’t have to be part of your plan. Good Luck!
Simply stated, process improvement is a change in work steps to improve outcomes. Through process improvement training you too can overcome overwhelming workloads, eliminate errors, and improve relationships with clients and leadership. Contact Lee Kuntz at 651-330-7076 to talk about what this might look like for your team.